Monday, April 27, 2009

This Is A Call

What happened to my generation?

When did we collectively sell out? Aren't we supposed to be Gen Y, this crazy new kind of generation, looking forward instead of stuck in the past. And yet we have gone the way of those before us, perpetuating things we once said weren't set in stone. And now we have our chisels out. Punk rock and counterculture weren't invented by our generation. Neither were conformity or the value of personal gain. And yet it seemed as if we could perfect these and other seemingly opposed ideas by marrying them in the most dysfunctional yet perfect union.

Maybe it was just me, but I thought we would collectively eschew the labels of our parent's generation. Republican, Democrat; the Coca-Cola:Pepsi, DC:Marvel, Hershey's:Nestle of the adult world. And yet now, even Facebook, the site that started out only for us has such self imposed labels as "Very Liberal" or "Very Conservative," just pseudonyms for close minded, entrenched in the viewpoints of others and unwilling or unable to compromise, all of which are the very enemies of democracy and freedom we hold dear.

Before you pigeon-hole me into whatever label on the precious political spectrum makes you most comfortable, realize that I identify with neither. I choose to think for myself, to make independent choices, some of which may be viewed as liberal, others conservative. These self determinations and constantly re-evaluated conclusions are precisely what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they built our Constitution.

It should come as no surprise (though to many it is) that George Washington himself had no political party. History books and teachers will try to pound into your head that he was a Whig, an archaic party that no one truly knows about anymore (quick lesson: they were a British political party that supported Colonial independence), but that's just a historian's way of pigeon-holing one of the greatest historical figures so they can feel at ease. In reality, anyone that has even read the cliff notes of Washington's farewell address can clearly see that he had a distrust and dislike of political parties, for exactly the reasons we see today.

Most Americans find a party and latch onto it, clinging for dear life. Part of what Washington (and I!) feared is that citizen's loyalty would be first to their party, then to their country. The scary thing is, he was right. We can see today, everyone voting along or against party lines. Party lines should have nothing to do with our politics if we are ever going to move forward. We have seen how bad things get when the nation becomes polarized, from personal experience I have been looked down upon simply based on who I voted for (this sin belongs to both parties, trust me).

Wake up, Generation Y. Our parents are too set in their ways to hear any of what I'm saying, so we owe it to ourselves and those who come after us to set things right and make party names meaningless. The day I hear someone say "That dumb guy" instead of "That dumb liberal/conservative" will be a happy day indeed.


Thursday, April 23, 2009


So I recently received an e-mail from a friend, a brain teaser of sorts. It's not one of those "90 percent of people give blah blah answer, only 10 percent say blah blah" (though it did have some statistic thing...but whatever).

Anyway, it's a number puzzle, which you really have to let go of math and see patterns for. I enjoyed it, so here it is:

"First you have to have Excel on your computer. If not just delete this email. The missing number is the password to open the Excel Spreadsheet attached to this email. If you can open the spreadsheet add your name, save it and attach to a new email and send it on.

It is said that engineers take 2 minutes to resolve this, architects 3 hours, doctors 6 hours and Supervisors/Managers 10 hours.

If you guess which the 6th number is, you'll be able to open the excel file. Once you discover it, enter your name, save it and send it on.

What is the 6th number in the below series?

1, 2, 6, 42, 1806, ___???

Good luck!

Here's a link to the Excel file. Have fun, while I finish today's Diabolical sudoku puzzle on Kim's Centro.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Step Up 3: The Octagon

I went to a co-worker's house on Saturday night to watch UFC 97. I must say, I was less than impressed. The first fights of the main card weren't anything to write home about, but then, opening matches usually aren't. Little did I know, I had just watched some of the best fights of the night.

Q: When did the UFC become a dance off rather than a fighting match?

A: Probably around the time it started promoting the movie Fighting, starring a guy whose only recognizable credits are a street dancing movie and an Amanda Bynes movie.

At this point in my rant, let me state that I'm not a hardcore UFC fan. I don't think most people would even consider me an average fan. I'm more a moderate enthusiast, as the only real matches I've seen (other than the odd episode of The Ultimate Fighter) are the ones a friend has invited me over to watch, so if you're looking for a real blow-by-blow, 'I've been there since it was no-holds-barred' review, this is more a 'Wow, I'm glad I didn't have any money on these fights, because they were awful' rant.

It started with Steve Cantwell and Luiz Cane dancing around each other, then quickly progressed on to Cheick Konga very impressively beating down Antoni Hardonk and Krzysztof Soszynski taking Brian Stann appart. From there, it was downhill. Chuck Liddell came in, showing some promise, but Mauricio Rua walking in to techno music, wearing booty shorts I've never seen on a man before (and hope I never will again). From there Liddell walked around the ring on obviously bad knees and got beaten by the man we dubbed "Booty shorts-techno guy." Not exactly a shining moment. After that, Sam Stout came in the ring, looking clean cut and ready for a fight, followed by Matt Wiman, looking and fighting remeniscent of a man who has just seen his first sandwich in three years. I know this recession is bad, but man, Wiman came in looking like "Hobo sapien."

But the real dissapointment came when the indominable Anderson Silva stepped in the ring with jiu-jitsu challenger Thales Leites. The fight was billed as a main event to remember, and it was...just not in the way Dana White and the rest of the UFC were hoping. In what was to be a fresh, hard hitting challenger battling to take the title from a hardened, professional champion, the match quickly degraded from a minute (yes, a full sixty seconds...if you don't think that's a long time, try staring at two grown men dancing inside a cage around each other for that full minute) with no one throwing a punch, to Leites falling on his back, trying to take Silva to the ground were he has notoriously underperformed. When he finally did get Silva down it was more like a tickle fight than a UFC match. After Silva got back up he made sure not to be taken down again. Leites, obviously determined not to be KOed by the champ repeatedly went to the ground, often for no reason, to an embarassing degree. The fight quickly degenerated into Leites on his back and Silva slapping his toes. Silva won.

Through it all were plugs for the aforementioned movie Fighting, and Channing Tatum, who will hopefully do less dancing in his next movie than the UFC fighters did Saturday night. I know we paid for a fight, but we got SNL.

C'mon UFC, show me some backbone. No one's gonna pay for a parody of a fight, when they can go to any bar on Easton Ave in New Brunswick and see it live for free.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The International Stamp Act

Recently, a lot of fuss has been made about the Obama Administration and their tax issue. While I, as a tax paying American, am not totally happy about it, there is a different group that I feel is much more deserving of the so called "Tea Parties" that have been thrown in our Treasury Department's honor: the entertainment industry.

In their most recent public display, they managed to get the gents at The Pirate Bay convicted of "assisting copyright infringement". While this is a quandary to the logical mind, as TPB was breaking no Swedish laws, one cannot help but observe that the media coverage surrounding the trial verdict serves as a wonderful smoke screen to get people's attention away from the recent Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement leak.

As reported on TorrentFreak, the ACTA treaty grants such power to the entertainment industry, it borders on the ridiculous. My question is this: how is no one outraged? Doesn't anyone care that a bloated industry is usurping progress for it's own interests?

One of their biggest arguments has been how much piracy hurts those who make the media being pirated. If this is true (which it is not, as many writers have pirated their own books, recording artists uploaded their albums and one visionary director putting his movie on BitTorrent), then the question becomes, why are artists forming anti-RIAA groups and agreeing to testify against the RIAA?

The answer is simply that the recording (and movie) industry is a bloated glutton, with label execs and distributors pocketing most of the money, leaving many artists with less (though by no means the pittance that many Americans earn). The true money sucking monster in this equation is the executive level in these industries. While it is true that some of them spend time scouting for talent and other such strenuous activities, they do nothing that justifies their outrageous wages.

Movie distributors are more to blame for the steep prices of tickets (I know I personally paid almost $25 for two tickets to see "Dark Knight," one of the few movies I feel was worth the ticket price), and snacks at your local cineplex. Basically, people that have no involvement in making the movie are making the big bucks, and those are the same people that are trying to push through a treaty that gives them the power to decide what punishment those convicted of "copyright infringement" pay. This is outrageous.

Some artists are fighting back. Radiohead, the same band that proved giving your fans free music does pay (as they made millions in donations from allowing a free, donation optional, download of their album In Rainbows), is now reacting positively to the idea of testifying against the RIAA in regards to abuse of copyright.

Now even the artists are fighting the system that managed to get TPB team convicted, but the suits at the labels and distributors are still pushing ahead, and their friends in political circles, especially the American government, need to be told that this will no longer be tolerated. Unless it will. Unless you want "entertainment" to become the meat grinder, force fed crap it's moving towards, that considers you as just a dollar/euro/yen sign.

Someone told me, in regards to Hugh Jackman's response to the Wolverine leak that "art does not lose anything in being reproduced, it does not lose power in being viewed several times; in fact it thrives on the multiple viewings, not how many times it was paid for. That is not art, that is a product, much like a Q-Tip. I'm not paying $10.50 for a Q-Tip, I'm paying for art."

Sony Entertainment VP Steve Heckler said it best nine years ago: "The [entertainment]industry will take whatever steps it needs to protect itself and protect its revenue streams (you, me, and the rest of the idiots that pay these people's salaries)...It will not lose that revenue stream, no matter what." He said that right before his company started putting rootkits on their discs as part of their DRM.

Supposedly DRM is to protect "the artist," but the rootkit allows anyone at Sony to access information on your computer remotely, without your knowledge or consent. There's no DRM on pirated content. The only person that's screwed over is the sucker that actually paid for the disc.

Get mad, revenue stream. Get mad, dammit.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Statement of Intent

I've always been a bit turned off from blogs.

I've always associated them with the 1337 (as I'm sure Mike would agree I am decidedly not) or the 15 year old denizens of LiveJournal (I would hope he and many others would equally agree on this point), and decided I wasn't "cool" enough, or too cool (respectively) to start a blog. Then there's always the problem of what to write. Do I write about politics (don't care), technology (there are better ones than I could make), sports (unless you'd like Philly team stats, I'm not an authority) or...?

I'm sure you see my dilemma now. But now I'm older (for sure) and wiser (I hope), and figured I would give it a shot. Plus my last away message was way to long for anyone to care about, so this is the result. What you can expect to find here is randomness. I will touch on whatever topics are on my mind that day. But I can tell you that you will be entertained and informed.

Behind the screen is the proverbial room full of chimps, typing away.